London survival guide for interns and graduates
Our London Guide introduction
Like many people, you want to complete a work placement or working in London. Regardless of your industry, your career can benefit a lot from it. Whether it is in a design firm, engineering company, law firm, art gallery, publishing house or government department (the list goes on and on) – students and young professionals can benefit in many ways from a work placement in London.
London is a multicultural metropolis full of innovative and rare opportunities, known for its rich lifestyle and icons such as the Royal Family, Buckingham Palace and quaint English pubs. It also has a very long history stretching back to as early as 50 AD – would you believe it?! This was the time of the Roman Empire, the most powerful force in the world, and they invaded Britain as early as 43 AD, establishing the city of Londinios shortly thereafter.
Since then London has faced a long and sometimes brutal history, having witnessed everything from empires, kings and queens, wars, plagues, terrorist attacks, fires, civil unrest, financial recessions, and an enormous population increase. But that hasn’t stopped it from being one of the main destinations in the world for hundreds of years!
Here are 10 reasons to choose London for your work placement or job
1. London is full of attractions
Of course, now knowing how long and rich London’s history is, nearly everyone in the western world could name at least one famous UK attraction since so much of its architecture and buildings have been there for so long!
Whether it’s the monumental clock tower, the Big Ben, which is located at the Palace of Westminster; Buckingham Palace, the home of the Royal Family, or the famous changing of the guards at the palace which occurs nearly every day of the year at 11:30am. Or maybe you marvel at old architecture such as The Tower Bridge which was built between 1886-1894; or the Gothic style church, Westminster Abbey, which began construction in 1245 by Henry III and has seen at least 16 royal weddings since 1100 AD.
London is also home to many museums, gardens and public places – most of which have free entry available. Between working, meeting new friends and seeing all of the amazing attractions, you are not going to have any free time!
2. London theatre/Broadway
William Shakespeare, the famous play-writer, author, poet and actor, lived in London from 1564-1616. He is thought to be the greatest and most influential writer in the English-speaking world. Due to such a long and prominent history of literature and acting London’s theatre district, The West End, houses some of the world’s greatest plays and musicals starring some of the world’s most famous actors, such as Helen Mirren, Daniel Radcliffe and Julie Andrews. Going to see a Broadway show in the theatre district of London still remains a hugely popular tourist attraction.
You will never be short of places to go shopping in London! You could literally spend days wandering around all of the districts with top designers and stores. Londoner’s are known for having a suave and stylish style of fashion and there are plenty of shopping districts to choose from. One of the top spots to shop is Oxford Street, where you have around 300 shops to choose from! But you can also see some of the most luxurious items at Bond Street and Mayfair – think clothing, furniture, jewellery, electronics and artwork – anything you could possibly want!
4. Social Life and Nightlife
Now, at first Londoner’s might seem a little shy or reserved, but underneath that exterior is a larrikin just waiting to burst out! The British are known for their dark and witty sense of humour – they have been the creators of some of the most famous comedies in the world (if you haven’t seen Monty Python or Faulty Towers, I demand you watch them as soon as possible!).
There are plenty of spots all around London specifically designed for people to have a good time. Whether it is casual drinks with friends at a pub on a sunny afternoon, dancing the night away to the latest music in a nightclub full of beautiful people, or meeting new friends at a local soccer match – there are plenty of places and people to socialise with and enjoy yourself!
5. Major sporting events – Wimbledon, cricket, rugby, soccer etc.
Speaking of meeting new friends at soccer matches, major sporting events (especially soccer games!) are another huge reason to choose London for your internship in marketing. The British are huge sports fans and London has hosted the Olympic Games four times! London is home to many famous sporting events such as Wimbledon, The Ashes Cricket Tournament and the English Premier League.
6. London is a city of change and growth
Just when you think you have remembered every nook and cranny within London, your favourite clothing shop will be replaced by a cheese deli, or an enormous new apartment block will begin being constructed two blocks from your house, or a new highway will be built to support the growing traffic. London is a booming city with an increasing population and with that comes constant change and growth within the city.
But because of this, no matter how long you live in London or how many times you visit it will always be different and you will be noticing new things all of the time. You can never be bored in London!
7. Walking London streets
Further to our previous point, you have probably chosen London as your internship destination not only because of the amazing opportunities there, but also because it is nearly perfectly picturesque wherever you turn! Getting out and walking around your local neighbourhood and around the area where you work, wandering around the city centre and up and down all the cute little side streets and alleyways everywhere is a great way to pass your time. There is so much to see and experience on the streets on London.
8. Seasonal weather
If you’re working in London and will be here for an extended period of time you will get to experience all of the seasons – from cold, snowy Winters; colourful mild Autumns; crisp Spring days and warm sunny Summers.
Every season is unique and beautiful but remember to bring a variety of clothing, plenty of layers are a great way to pack so you have something suitable for every season. Or be prepared to hit those shopping districts to buy the latest fashionable seasonal attire!
9. The history of the city
London has been the inspiration for many creepy and mysterious events. Many authors over the centuries have based classic tales and infamous characters on those found walking the streets of London. Classic crime novels, such as Sherlock Holmes, are based on the real-life and spooky mysteries that have occurred in the city.
Jack the Ripper, for example, was a violent murderer in London in the nineteenth century who left his victims butchered in alleyways and houses. He was never caught. His tale and unknown identity has been a huge attraction for many people since.
10. Good food
London is a multicultural hub and there is nearly every type of international cuisine available somewhere in the city! It is known for having a great selection of Indian, Italian, Chinese, Middle Eastern and Spanish cuisine. No matter what you’re in the mood for, you will always be able to find something to satisfy your craving!
How to navigate London
If you’re travelling internationally to London from somewhere outside of Europe, then airplane is the easiest way to access the city. London has two main airports; Heathrow and London City Airport. Both have flights arriving and departing 24 hours, 7 days a week and the services offered inside the airports are some of the best in the world.
Navigating the city itself, however, is a completely different story. London is enormous, so expect to take at least an hour for every trip or stop you might make throughout your day. Londoners spend a large portion of their life commuting! The easiest way around the city is on the Tube or by Bus, we recommend purchasing a Visitor Oyster Card which allows you access to any of the services on the Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail, River Bus and most National Rail services.
Taxis and car services such as Uber are also widely available throughout the city, so if you are ever in a hurry and have a bit of extra cash to spend, just order or hail a taxi or Uber and you will get to your destination.
Budget and Finances
London is a city that can support all budgets – but it depends on the type of lifestyle you plan on living and how long you want to will live there for. Maybe you will live in London for six months and expect to see a Broadway show or musical every Friday night wearing only the latest designer ball-gown, or maybe you’re only visiting for 3-4 weeks and expect to eat home cooked meals every night, catch the Tube wherever you go and make the most of the free museums and parks. Your trip duration, expectations and lifestyle choices will determine how much money you will need for your time in the city.
But to put it in perspective for you – the average cup of coffee in the city will cost you between US$2-$4, an average meal at a restaurant will cost you anywhere between US$8-$30, and the average taxi or Uber fare for around 3kms is between US$9-$15.
Interning in London for an extended period of time will allow you to witness Londoner behaviour – and depending where in the world you are coming from, it could be very different to what you’re used to!
Londoners are sticklers for rules and abiding by strict social procedures. There are over 8.5 million people living in the city all navigating their way through life every day, so there are certain social situations you should never be caught doing.
- Do not cut lines – like, ever! Whether it’s in a restaurant, bank or waiting for the Tube, if there is a line graciously take your place in the queue and wait. Do not be one of those people who cuts 20 other people off! You will be met with glares and mutters from the locals about how rude you are being.
- Londoners have a habit of rushing everywhere, everyone is busy, busy, busy. If you can’t keep up with the dashing pace of pedestrians on the sidewalks or are too busy sightseeing to navigate the busy streets, make sure you stick out of the way somewhere to the left of the flow of people (they drive on the left-hand side of the road, remember!). This way you won’t be confronted or knocked by an angry businessman on his way to a meeting.
- Due to the extensive public transport system, most people catch either a bus or train at least once a day. Because of this, Londoner’s rely on mobile applications such as Tube Exits, Citymapper, Hailo and Uber to get them to their destinations. Another great habit to pick up is to always check if there are any engineering works happening on the Tube before leaving for your destination so you know of any service interruptions or delays.
- Most of your day will be spent thinking about and planning your commute to or from work. Londoners are pro’s at knowing all the back streets and alleyways providing short cuts around the city. Getting stuck in a tourist zone at peak-hour is the last place you want to be when you are late for work, so learning where the busy spots are and when to avoid them is a must if you’re going to be living in London for some time.
- Overall, Londoners are extremely polite and quiet, tourists are always relatively easy to spot since they are the relaxed groups strolling slowly, talking away to each other loudly over the hustle and bustle. The only time you will encounter any rudeness from a Londoner is if you get in their way or cut them off in a line (see points above!). And the only time their strict rules and procedures do not apply is when boarding the Tube – they will push and squeeze as many people as they possibly can into one carriage, so be prepared to be jammed in like a sardine. It is an uncomfortable experience, yet it is effective !
The best borough to live in
Depending on who you ask and where they are from, you will get a variety of responses as to which the best borough to live in is. Londoners like a bit of competition and the question of which of the 32 housing districts is the best is no exception! In general, it is accepted that the east side of the city is better than the west and the north side is also better than the south (sorry Southerners!).
It depends on your tastes and interests, but in general the top boroughs are thought to be Islington, Clapham, Greenwich, Hackney and Camden. Some of which are known internationally for having housed famous bands and artists over the years. You will pay the price for living in these boroughs though, with some of the most expensive houses in London found in these areas.
The worst boroughs to live in is a constant debate with nobody really wanting to admit their borough is the worst in the city. But Kingston upon Thames, Redbridge, Lewisham, Havering and Bexley frequently make it onto the bottom of the list regarding the most popular boroughs in London.
>> Read now our article on Where to live in London ?
So you’ve been accepted into your work placement in London and now you need to work out what to pack for your trip! You can either arrive fully prepared or opt to buy the following products in London once you arrive, there are plenty of places to stock up on essential items.
To make yourself comfortable in those first few weeks of settling into London life, remember to pack the following :
- Power adapter – you need to be able to plug in and charge your electronics!
- Phone + charger
- Laptop + charger
- Notebook + pen
- A mix of professional, casual and exercise appropriate clothing (including shoes)
- Plastic bags – for toiletries, dirty/wet clothes and shoes.
- Large, warm scarf
- Extra tote bag for grocery shopping
- Portable power brick to charge electronics – this is a life-saver on those days of wandering around the city all day!
- Download Viber or Whatsapp mobile applications – they provide free world-wide messaging as long as you’re connected to Wi-Fi
- iPod + headphones
- Travel pillow, face mask and ear buds
- Book or magazine for reading
Now you’re all set for your adventure in London! Your job or work placement in london is sure to be extremely interesting and your time living in London will, no doubt, be a highlight in your career journey!
Internshipmapper is a career portal for students and graduates. We also provide range of graduate recruitment services to help sourcing candidates for internships or graduate jobs, and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobs and internships in London, visit their website.